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Updated: 15 hours 9 min ago

Chaco Canyon petroglyph may represent ancient total eclipse

Wed, 08/09/2017 - 2:01pm
As the hullabaloo surrounding the Aug. 21 total eclipse of the sun swells by the day, an expert says a petroglyph in New Mexico's Chaco Canyon may represent a total eclipse that occurred there a thousand years ago.

Black holes pervade the universe, celestial census indicates

Mon, 08/07/2017 - 3:54pm
After conducting a cosmic inventory of sorts to calculate and categorize stellar-remnant black holes, astronomers have concluded that there are probably tens of millions of the enigmatic, dark objects in the Milky Way -- far more than expected.

Astronauts to bring asteroid back into lunar orbit

Mon, 08/07/2017 - 11:03am
Future space exploration aims to fly further from Earth than ever before. New research examines the robotic phase of the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). In addition to taking manned spaceflights deeper into space than ever before, the proposed mission would also bring some benefit for planetary science.

Primordial black holes may have helped to forge heavy elements

Fri, 08/04/2017 - 1:18pm
Astronomers like to say we are the byproducts of stars, stellar furnaces that long ago fused hydrogen and helium into the elements needed for life through the process of stellar nucleosynthesis. But what about the heavier elements in the periodic chart, elements such as gold, platinum and uranium? Astronomers believe most of these "r-process elements" -- elements much heavier than iron -- were created, either in the aftermath of the collapse of massive stars and the associated supernova explosions, or in the merging of binary neutron star systems.

Twilight observations reveal huge storm on Neptune

Thu, 08/03/2017 - 3:22pm
Striking images of a storm system nearly the size of Earth have astronomers doing a double-take after pinpointing its location near Neptune's equator, a region where no bright cloud has been seen before. The discovery was made at dawn on June 26 as researchers were testing the Keck telescope to see whether it could make useful observations during twilight, a time most astronomers consider unusable because it's not dark enough.

Dark Energy Survey reveals most accurate measurement of universe's dark matter

Thu, 08/03/2017 - 12:06pm
Dark Energy Survey scientists have unveiled the most accurate measurement ever made of the present large-scale structure of the universe. These measurements of the amount and 'clumpiness' (or distribution) of dark matter in the present-day cosmos were made with a precision that, for the first time, rivals that of inferences from the early universe by the European Space Agency's orbiting Planck observatory.

Our solar system's 'shocking' origin story

Thu, 08/03/2017 - 10:31am
According to one longstanding theory, our Solar System's formation was triggered by a shock wave from an exploding supernova. It injected material from the exploding star into a neighboring cloud of dust and gas, causing it to collapse in on itself and form the Sun and its surrounding planets. New work offers fresh evidence supporting this theory, modeling the Solar System's formation beyond the initial cloud collapse and into the intermediate stages of star formation.

Solving the mystery of the sun's hot atmosphere

Thu, 08/03/2017 - 9:19am
The elemental composition of the Sun's hot atmosphere known as the 'corona' is strongly linked to the 11-year solar magnetic activity cycle, a team of scientists has revealed for the first time.

Exoplanet shines with glowing water atmosphere

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 1:47pm
Scientists have found compelling evidence for a stratosphere on an enormous planet outside our solar system. The planet's stratosphere -- a layer of atmosphere where temperature increases with higher altitudes -- is hot enough to boil iron.

New simulations could help in hunt for massive mergers of neutron stars, black holes

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 1:47pm
Scientists have developed new computer models to explore what happens when a black hole joins with a neutron star - the superdense remnant of an exploded star.

Running out of gas: Gas loss puts breaks on stellar baby boom

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 8:33am
Understanding the history of star formation in the Universe is a central theme in modern astronomy. Various observations have shown that the star formation activity has varied through the 13.8 billion-year history of the Universe. The stellar birthrate peaked around 10 billion years ago, and has declined steadily since then. However, the cause of the declining stellar birthrate is still not well understood.

NASA continues to study pulsars, 50 years after their chance discovery

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 3:43pm
These rotating 'lighthouse' neutron stars begin their lives as stars between about seven and 20 times the mass of our sun. Some are found to spin hundreds of times per second, faster than the blades of a household blender, and they possess enormously strong magnetic fields.

Sun's core rotates four times faster than its surface

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 9:43am
The sun's core rotates nearly four times faster than the sun's surface, an international team of astronomers reports. The most likely explanation is that this core rotation is left over from the period when the sun formed, some 4.6 billion years ago.

Earth-like atmosphere may not survive Proxima b's orbit

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 4:41pm
An Earth-like planet outside the solar system may not be able to keep a grip on its atmosphere, leaving the surface exposed to harmful stellar radiation and reducing its potential for habitability.

Astronomers discover 'heavy metal' supernova rocking out

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 11:45am
An extraordinarily bright supernova occurred in a surprising location, astronomers have found. This 'heavy metal' supernova discovery challenges current ideas of how and where such super-charged supernovas occur. In the past decade, astronomers have discovered about 50 supernovas, out of the thousands known, that are particularly powerful. Following the recent discovery of one of these, the researchers have uncovered vital clues about where some of these extraordinary objects come from.

Quasars may answer how starburst galaxies were extinguished

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 9:54am
Astronomers have located quasars inside four dusty starburst galaxies. The observations suggest quasars may starve this type of galaxy of energy needed to form stars.

Complex chemistry in Saturn's moon Titan's atmosphere

Fri, 07/28/2017 - 2:15pm
Saturn’s frigid moon Titan has a curious atmosphere. In addition to a hazy mixture of nitrogen and hydrocarbons, like methane and ethane, Titan’s atmosphere also contains an array of more complex organic molecules, including vinyl cyanide, which astronomers recently uncovered in archival ALMA data. Under the right conditions, like those found on the surface of Titan, vinyl cyanide may naturally coalesce into microscopic spheres resembling cell membranes.

Glittering stars: Spiral galaxy NGC 4248

Fri, 07/28/2017 - 1:36pm
This beautiful clump of glowing gas, dark dust and glittering stars is the spiral galaxy NGC 4248, located about 24 million light-years away in the constellation of Canes Venatici (The Hunting Dogs).

Astrophysicists map out the light energy contained within the Milky Way

Thu, 07/27/2017 - 10:13pm
For the first time, a team of scientists has calculated the distribution of all light energy contained within the Milky Way, which will provide new insight into the make-up of our galaxy and how stars in spiral galaxies such as ours form.

Milky Way's origins are not what they seem

Thu, 07/27/2017 - 2:18pm
Up to half of the matter in our Milky Way galaxy may come from distant galaxies, astrophysicists have discovered in a first-of-its-kind analysis. As a result, each one of us may be made in part from extragalactic matter. Using supercomputer simulations, the researchers found an unexpected mode for how galaxies acquired matter: intergalactic transfer. Supernova explosions eject copious amounts of gas from galaxies, causing atoms to be transported from one galaxy to another via powerful galactic winds.